More specific terms would help discussion here. Let’s interpret political decentralisation three different ways. Since being more decentralised than the current TC is a partial design goal, I’ll evaluate it for each interpretation.
I1: “Many independent people are allowed to vote.”
This one is less useful than one might think. Eg it leaves the Fellowship vulnerable to straw-man arguments like the one you mentioned about 8 billion people.
I1-Evaluation: The TC had 3 voters (Parity, Parity, and W3F). The Fellowship has 37 members. 37 > 3.
I2: “Many independent people can reasonably expect to sometimes win referendums over disagreements.”
The word disagreement is important here. If there’s no disagreement, there should be no referendum, or else Governance is simply wasting energy, and people will not care to vote, which will undermine the governance mechanism.
I2-Evaluation: Let’s assume there were at least 3 independent people in the TC. All of them might sometimes win, sometimes loose a disagreement. There’s only one disagreement scenario: 2 winning side, 1 loosing side.
The top 6 members of the Fellowship have 115 votes. Everyone else (the 31 bottom members) combined have 104 votes. So superficially it might look like a minimum of 6 top members must agree to be sure to win a referendum. Since 6 > 2 this would arguably be more I2-decentralised than TC.
However, a scenario where one top 6 voter combined with a unison bottom 31 of voters, beats a unison top 5 of voters, is incredibly unlikely in the Fellowship’s system. Coordinating >20 voters is already as hard as it is unlikely, as shown by our political parties. In the Fellowship, the underdog-side is 32 actors, and the top 25 of them would have to vote in unison to win a referendum. Any leverage that top voters have on bottom voters would easily shrink the real practical number of top voters required below 6.
Such leverage exists in the Fellowship because members are not allowed to vote freely.
The highest rank among the everyone else group, and the lowest rank in the top 6 group, are both rank 5. The four rank 5 members must vote in line with the top 3 members (if those 3 agree) 80% of the time. The three rank 4 members must vote in agreement with superiors 90% of the time. The rest (27 members) must do so 100% of the time.
This non-free votes rule implicitly makes sure that the highest ranked members vote first, and in public. Otherwise, one can’t make sure to vote in line with them. Whichever rank 4 or 5 member who steps out of line first use their tiny fraction of free voting power, and make a big gamble that almost every voter after themselves will agree to oppose the top most qualified and authoritative members.
In practice this will almost never happen, and when it happens it will almost never succeed. We can predict this because British political parties are ruled similarly, with party discipline enforced by whips. The Fellowship will be ruled as one political party, with one whip, not many different ones. Parties, and the Fellowship, are designed to never split along the middle, and to demote problematic rare policy line breakers.
Almost all referendums will in practice be over when the top voter (rank 7) has discussed with the two rank 6 members. The three have enough leverage on the rest (34 members) that I expect them to never loose a single vote if they agree internally.
The discussion among the top 3 can be made very short in 70% of the disagreements, since the two rank 6 members must align with the one rank 7 member 70% of the time. You (Gavin) is the only member who can vote freely according to your rules written in the Manifesto.
Even if the TC had only 3 members, I’d say the Fellowship is potentially less I2-decentralised than the TC was, since the TC had no top voter with special powers. It had 3 actors who could vote freely, and 3 > 1.
The smallest group among the Fellowship required to never in practice loose a referendum might be 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7. It might compare favorably to the 2 observed in the TC. However, the coordination problem on the underdog-side is significantly worse in the Fellowship than it was in the TC (~25 > 2).
I3: “Governance can easily be untied from current leaders”
This one means that governance may continue uninterrupted even if some individuals suddenly disappear. An important consequence of it is that power will easily and peacefully be transferred every time.
I3-Evaluation: The Fellowship achieves this. However, the TC probably also achieved this, since companies voted, not individuals. Parity and W3F have their own mechanisms for transferring power and swapping out leaders.
The Fellowship ties voting power to individuals (sometimes for life) rather than to formal employment roles. You (Gavin) as the only Master member, will face no requirements, and can never be demoted, except by a general Polkadot referendum. Everyone else must defend their rank actively, and might get demoted much more easily.
There’s also something called “passive allowance” that will look suspicious to anyone who have experienced corruption. You wrote the rules, put yourself on top, are hard to remove, hard to overrule, and earn a passive income (from the Treasury?). As a Polkadot stakeholder I wish you had thought through the optics of this more closely before pubilshing.
This Master-4-life idea does not exist in normal companies, and hence not in the TC. It might be a step in the wrong direction in terms of I3-decentralisation.
I think you walk into a self-contradiction with mentioning decentralisation as a goal for the Fellowship because so few qualify to a meaningful amount of power. Decentralisation among 1-7 people within the same company makes little sense for us outsiders.
I don’t know what made you use that word so much, but I hope it’s not idealism, absolutism or myopia. The Fellowship’s decentralisation, transparency and inclusiveness must be compared to Parity’s and W3F’s, since they were the voters in the TC. Parity and W3F already has some decentralised, transparent, and inclusive properties, and I’m not sure if the Fellowship as described will be more decentralised, transparent, or inclusive than Parity already was. The Fellowship might even be much worse, depending on how loosely you decide to interpret your own rules.
Governance design involves prioritizing between risks. I think it’s better to embrace that and speak clearly about it than to say there’s decentralisation here when there’s actually very little of it (except in the I1 sense).
A specification and classification of which threats, attacks, and malign circumstances we’re protecting against would be required to further our understanding of how the Fellowship is intended to work, and in which way it will be an improvement. Other than being a fun experiment.